Sleek, futuristic and handy are the three terms that I can use to summarize the speaker Bluetooth Amazon Echo. It is essentially a speaker, but it can do so much more, thanks to the voice-recognition and on cloud technology! In this speaker Bluetooth review, I will assess this smart speaker from Amazon and see how it functions and performs.
Amazon Echo features a simple and sleek design. It has a shape of a cylinder, clad in an all-black metal body. The minimalist cylindrical design looks somewhat similar to another speaker Bluetooth, UE Boom from Amazon. The speaker has a smooth, brushed finish. There are tiny holes at the bottom of the device that output the speaker’s audio. When it comes to the control buttons, it has a limited number of physical controls – two buttons at the top (action and mute button), as well as a volume ring around the top part. You can use the action button to a establish connection between the speaker and your home Wi-Fi system. The mute button provides you a quick mute control over the speaker. Besides than the simple buttons, I also find the volume ring to be clever and intuitive. You simply need to twist it around to either turn up the volume or set it to a lower level. It also integrates LED notification lighting. The volume ring flashes different colors to indicate different processing. For example, you will see it turn white and blue when activated and red when muted. For some reasons, Amazon does not equip their smart speaker with an onboard battery, so you will need to plug it all the time to use it. It might be a little inconvenient for some, especially those who would like to use this smart Bluetooth speaker outdoor. However, since it is compact and lightweight, I still find it to be portable.
Bluetooth Pairing and Wi-Fi Connection
Setting up the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connection on Amazon Echo is a breeze. There is an accompanying mobile app that you can download on your smartphone and tablet. At the time of the initial launch back in November 2014, only Android and Amazon Fire Tablet has the app. Now, there is an available app for the iOS operating system. You can use the Echo App to establish the first connection. It is very quick as it takes only about three minutes for it to connect to your home Wi-Fi or initiate the Bluetooth pairing with the speaker. Once connected, you can give a voice command to the smart speaker by saying the wake word, “Alexa.” It is the name of the control system. You can also call it “Amazon” to have it to listen and respond to your commands. Now, if you are a member of Amazon Prime, it is a great smart speaker to have since it can play the music for you via voice commands. However, if you are streaming from iTunes or Spotify on Bluetooth, Alexa will not be able to listen and operate. Instead, you will need to do the music controls manually from your iTunes or Spotify app. In other words, it does not function as a smart speaker if you do not use it with Amazon Prime music library.
Smooth Music Controls
The smart system on Amazon Echo enhances the values that the speaker has to offer, especially to the Amazon Prime members. You can listen to all sorts of online music platforms and use your voice to play, pause, stop, and skip the track. You can talk to the speaker and say, “Alexa, play jazz music” and you will be able to hear just that, jazz music on your Prime music library. Amazon has done such a great job building the voice system as Alexa can react very well and quickly. You will find the smart voice system to be very handy if you are busy eating or typing on your laptop. Adjusting the volume up or set the level is also easy as she can also listen to your volume commands. When you are on the Wi-Fi connection and listening to your track on the prime library, you can give commands to the speaker. It is capable of picking up your voice even when the music is on, thanks to the built-in noise-cancellation technology in the speaker. If the music happens to be too loud for it to react to your command, you can use the external remote to talk to Alexa. It has a limited range so make sure you stand about ten yards away from the device when using the remote.
Audio Quality on Amazon Echo
At the end of the day, Echo is still a speaker. A good, high-quality speaker should be able to output a loud, clear, crisp, and well-balanced stereo sound. Now, Amazon Echo is not totally bad, but Amazon could have done a better job in the sound technology. They pack a 2.5-inch woofer and a 2.0-inch tweeter inside the speaker for a deep bass sound and high notes. Overall, the sound is excellent at low-moderate volume. The bass is deep, and the treble is balanced and noticeable. However, I could not help but notice the distortion in the sound when the volume is at a maximum level. In fact, the sound can be a bit muddy when the volume goes anywhere above 60%. On a positive note, the music quality is better when played on a Bluetooth connection. If you are an average listener who does not mind turning on the speaker Bluetooth on a mid volume, you should be happy with the Echo speaker.
As mentioned earlier, Amazon Echo is more than just a regular speaker. It can connect to the internet and find info for you. However, the ability of Alexa is still limited as it only refers to Wikipedia or other few sources to find information. There are some chances where she fails to provide you with a satisfactory answer. When that happens, she directs you to the Bing search engine instead. Besides than searching info, Alexa can also give you the current weather forecast and news updates. On a bad day, you can use Alexa to brighten up your day with her jokes! She reminds me of Siri and Google Now, and I am sure she does the same to you. Another cool feature that you can use is the automated home integration system. You can use it to control your home light systems by installing specific switches such as Philips Hue, WeMo, and Wink. There is no more need for you to get up from your bed to switch off the lights. Give commands to Alexa and she will turn it off for you automatically. Other smart features that you sure will appreciate is alarm and timer setup, Amazon’s Audiobook voice reader, voice order on Amazon.com, and shopping list organizer.
- Sleek design and well-built controls.
- A good low-mid audio quality.
- Easy Wi-Fi connection and Bluetooth pairing process.
- It offers a wide range of functionalities, other than acting as a regular audio speaker.
- Integrates well with many Amazon’s built-in services (music library, Audiobook, shopping cart, etc.)
- Works with several lightings for automated home system.
- It is not 100% portable. It remains plugged into a power outlet at all times.
- Sounds can be muddy at times. It should allow manual tweaking of mids, treble and base on the mobile apps.
- The voice notification can also be annoying at times. Imagine hearing the voice of Alexa when you are finally able to fall asleep.
- The smart search feature does not work with Google or Bing. It mainly uses Wikipedia.
As a conclusion for this Speaker Bluetooth Review, Amazon Echo is a promising speaker Bluetooth that has lots of potentials. For the past several months, Amazon has been updating the device with new features. It provides several upgrades and wider supports. With such never-ending updates, that is why we see the price being set at a premium price, about $180 for non-Prime members and $100 for Prime subscribers. Recently, the company opens their API to independent developers, so I guess we can expect greater and fun things from this speaker in the future. Is it a spectacular audio speaker that can beat Sennheiser of Beats? It is not. But, it is indeed a good-quality wireless speaker that you can consider if you love to explore with new and fun gadgets!
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